After two full months' journey from County Limerick, John Joseph Hogan arrived in St. Louis the day after Christmas, 1848. The final leg of the trip, by the steamboat Big Missouri up the Mississippi River, was dangerous enough with the ice flows of winter. More concerning though were the several passengers and crew who died of cholera and were buried on shore where they died.
As he had in New Orleans after reaching the docks, Hogan stopped first at church to thank God for his safe arrival. Hogan had a specific purpose in coming to St. Louis and he knew this church:
ST. LOUISWorking on steadily through the ice, stopping occasionally for repairs, maintaining doggedly the purpose to make port, we reached the wharf at St. Louis about noon, December 26th, in eight days from New Orleans, the distance by water being 1,278 miles. Average rate of sailing per day, 160 miles; average speed per hour, 6.1 miles; the same speed nearly that was maintained by the Berlin crossing the ocean. Like a good, God-fearing sailor, I went first of all to the nearest church, the Cathedral of St. Louis, to make my thanksgiving to God for my safe arrival at my place of destination, after having passed through many dangers and hardships.Next morning, December 27th, feast of St. John the Evangelist, I went to confession, heard mass, and received Holy Communion in the Cathedral of St. Louis.
Basilica of St. Louis, King, 1951
I had learned from many reliable sources of information that in the far-away Western World, on the banks of the Mississippi, a great diocese was growing up that had immense missionary fields, over which the Church was spreading rapidly. One of my sources of information, the “American Catholic Almanac,” sent regularly every year to my father by his brother, my uncle and namesake in America, gave full description of the diocese of St. Louis and had a well-executed frontispiece engraving of the Cathedral of St. Louis and buildings adjoining it, so that I had become greatly familiar with the place.
The Old Cathedral, St. Louis, 2009 (C. Payton photo)